United Arab Emirates

swings and misses

Marhaba from Dubai,

The more we go without and the less we complain, the more likely we are to succeed. The four million Indians living and working in Dubai are here to capitalise on the commercial chances on offer here. They’re not living in poverty but their cricket is conducted on the barest of assets. They go without the niceties. They don’t complain. They undoubtedly succeed.

Another match was going on in the car park, too.

Indians are famous for being mad about (obsessive?) their cricket. They’re notorious for conducting informal games in unlikely places, such as roads, car parks and any vacant lot they can find. Here in Dubai, the sand between the residential development is usually flat and fairly even, and even if it’s not, that doesn’t matter. There’s room for an improvised game.

Out of my window on the 4th floor there are five overlapping matches going on simultaneously, early in the day, before the heat is too sapping. Here and there in the outfield you can see two fielders standing together but paying attention to two different pitches.

These games are serious but light-hearted. There’s no score book, no protective pads and nobody’s wearing whites. The standard of the play is not high. There’s certainly no elegance; no Indian Princes being nurtured in these desert sands.The batting is all swing and miss, lots of hoiks and lots of dot balls.

From a distance they appear to be just playing for the sheer joy and the camaraderie. These are games devoid of strategy and secret ruses. There’s certainly no resentment towards a team-mate whose performance may have otherwise been perceived to have let the side down.

A broken ankle waiting to happen, opined my son.

There are other conspicuous differences between this type of cricket and organised competitive cricket. The game seems to be bereft of pretentious affectations, so common on the televised cricket these days. There are no boisterous histrionics at the fall of a wicket and no time wasted between one dismissal and the next batter being ready.

The players seem to have made no attempt to improve the outfield, with the occasional exception of witch’s hats on the boundary.

The success of these amateur cricketers is to have a chance to commune harmlessly on a day of rest from the unfulfilling jobs they’re here for. Almost every one of these four million is here to remit money back to a needy family on the sub-continent. (“Does your wife work, Serdar?” “Only at the ATM”, smiles Serdar, who wistfully reports that he returns to Pakistan in the hottest months of Dubai, and goes back “when money goes down”.) These cricketers are succeeding whilst going without, whilst never complaining.

Maasalaamah from Dubai


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